Pai to Chiang Rai

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Overview Compare Bus + Minivan (Combined Tickets) Bus + Minivan (Separate Tickets) To Stay

Chiang Rai is a great place to escape from the more touristic Chiang Mai. This city is famous for the Wat Rong Khun also known as the White Temple. If you are in for an adventure, you can go on a hike through lush green mountain scenery where you can find several waterfalls and hot springs.

After recharging in the peaceful and natural side of Chiang Rai, you can also visit its lively walking street market and evening night bazaars which offer all the local shopping and traditional Thai foods.

How to get from Pai to Chiang Rai

The distance from Pai to Chiang Rai is 300 km (185 miles). In this post, we discuss the options to travel from Chiang Rai to Pai: by booking combined (9 hours) and separate (6.5-8 hours) bus and minivan tickets. Ticket prices range from 435 THB ($12) to 510 THB ($14).

2 ways to get from Pai to Chiang Rai

Transport modeDurationCostsAvailability
Bus + Minivan
(Combined Tickets)*
9 hours510 THB ($14)Read article for more info
Bus + Minivan
(Separate Tickets)**
6.5-8 hours435 THB ($12)Read article for more info
*Including 1-hr transfer time **Excluding transfer time

Booking a combined bus and minivan ticket for Pai to Chiang Rai is a great option because you won’t have to worry about your connecting bus trip. However, note that this is a self-connect trip. Combined tickets cost 510 THB ($14). Travel time takes 9 hours, including the 1-hour waiting time for the next departure.

If you have some time for a side trip and want to save a few bucks, you can divide the trip with a short stopover in Chiang Mai. Booking separate tickets costs 435 THB ($12) and travel time is about 6.5-8 hours, excluding transfers.

Taking the flight is not a realistic option for this route as Pai does not have an airport. You can only take an indirect flight for the first part of the route, between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. However, this will take much longer than the 3.5 to 4-hour bus journey to Chiang Rai.

Itinerary from Pai to Chiang Rai

Pai to Chiang Rai by Bus + Minivan (Combined tickets)

Duration: 9 hours
Cost: 510 THB ($14)
Duration: 9 hours
Cost: 510 THB ($14)

The advantage of booking a combined ticket is that you won’t worry about missing out on tickets for the next part of your journey. The disadvantage is that there are very limited seats, so you have to book tickets well in advance.

There used to be a direct trip from Pai to Chiang Rai operated by Terminal Green. However, the last time we checked (October 2022), this direct trip has been unavailable since the pandemic.

Instead, you can book combined bus and minivan tickets in 12GoAsia for 510 THB ($14). The whole travel takes about 9 hours, which includes the 1-hour layover time.

The combined tickets from Pai to Chiang Rai are offered by Prempracha and Green Bus companies. There is only one trip per day departing at 09:00 in the morning.

Departure and arrival station

The minivan departs from the Pai Bus Station beside the Pai Night Market in the city centre. The minivan takes you to Chiang Mai Arcade 2. At this station, you will need to self-transfer to the connecting bus heading for Chiang Rai, located in the nearby Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3.

Note that this is a self-connect trip and you have to wait for about an hour for the next departure going to Chiang Rai. The final bus stop is at Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1. From this terminal, you can reach the Chang Rai city centre in just a 5-minute ride.

Bus + Minivan schedule from Pai to Chiang Rai

Bus OperatorScheduleCosts
Prempracha + Green Bus*09:00-17:55510 THB ($14)
Check Bus Tickets
*Self-connect trip and includes a 1-hour transfer time

If tickets are sold out, you can also ask a local travel agency in Pai for a connecting trip. Some companies cover the entire route from Pai to Chiang Rai, which means you don’t need to switch or book two different buses.

Pai to Chiang Rai by Bus + Minivan (Separate tickets)

Duration: 6.5-8 hours
Cost: 435 THB ($12)
Duration: 6.5-8 hours
Cost: 435 THB ($12)

Booking separate bus and minivan tickets for the Pai to Chiang Rai route can be a really good option, especially if you want to have a little trip in Chiang Mai or want to save some bucks.

The total travel duration for this option is 6.5-8 hours, excluding the transfer time. The combined fare starts at 435 THB ($12).

There are multiple trips per day so best to align your schedules. We have provided a step-by-step guide below.

Step 1: Pai to Chiang Mai by Minivan

Duration: 3-4 hours
Cost: 210 THB ($5.50)
Duration: 3-4 hours
Cost: 210 THB ($5.50)

To travel from Pai to Chiang Mai, you can take a minivan for the first leg of the journey. There are also buses, but we don’t recommend this as the road is full of hairpin turns. This can be an unpleasant journey in a larger vehicle.

In travelling from Pai to Chiang Mai, we recommend booking with either Prempracha or Aya Service. There are multiple trips daily from 07:00 until 17:00. The ticket starts at 210 THB ($5.50) and the travel duration takes 3-4 hours.

Prempracha buses depart from Pai Bus Station in the city centre, near Pai Walking Street. Its final stop is at the Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 2 (Arcade Bus Station). Beside this terminal is the bus station where you can take a bus bound for Chiang Rai.

On the other hand, Aya Service departs from Aya Service Office in Pai and completes its journey at Srimongkol Road. This road is just a 5-minute drive from the Chiang Mai city centre.

Minivan schedule from Pai to Chiang Mai

Bus OperatorDepartureDurationCosts
Prempracha Transport11x a day, every hour
between 07:00-17:00
3hr 55m215 THB ($5.50)
Check Minivan Tickets
Aya Service6x a day, every hour
between 08:31-15:30
3 hours210 THB ($5.50)
Check Minivan Tickets

We recommend travelling this route during the day due to the curvy roads and poor lighting in the evening. Also, keep in mind that drivers manoeuvre this trip twice a day and might drive extremely fast, which can make it a scary journey.

Tip: If you are prone to motion sickness, you may want to take some anti-motion sickness pills for the first part of the journey from Pai to Chiang Mai.

For a complete overview of this route, visit our page about Pai to Chiang Mai.

Step 2: Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai by Bus

Duration: 3.5-4 hours
Cost: 225 THB ($6)
Duration: 3.5-4 hours
Cost: 225 THB ($6)

Once you arrive at the Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 2 in Chiang Mai, make your way to the Green Buses in the parking area. This is where you will find the buses heading to Chiang Rai.

We recommend booking your tickets for the bus to Chiang Rai in advance as tickets sell out quickly. Booking your bus ticket online costs at least 225 THB ($6).

Green Bus departs from the Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3 located 5km northeast of the Chiang Mai Old City. The bus arrives at the Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 in the city centre, next to the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar.

Bus schedule from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

Bus OperatorScheduleCosts
Green Bus
225 THB ($6)
Check Bus Tickets
Green Bus
350 THB ($9.50)
Check Bus Tickets

If you haven’t purchased your bus ticket in advance, you can head to the Green Bus ticketing counter to purchase your ticket.

For more details, read our article on going from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.


Our favourite places to stay in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai Accommodation

Backpack Hostel

Centrally located in Chiang Rai, within walking distance or a short drive to the sights, the Backpack Hostel is a great choice for all types of travelers. Walking street and the night market are also just a few minutes away on foot.

The hostel is very clean and comfortable and the owners are well known to be very welcoming and friendly. The rooftop patio is the perfect place to relax with a cold drink at the end of a long day exploring and soak in the sights! 

  • Great location
  • Rooftop patio
  • Walking distance to sights
  • Clean and comfortable

Private rooms start at $16 per night

Read more

Chiang Rai Accommodation

Goodtime Resort Chiang Rai

Set just a few kilometers from the main sights, this location is ideal for those looking for some quiet and relaxation.

Take advantage of the bike rentals to get out and explore the town and sights and enjoy the lovely terrace area for guests in the evenings.  The resort is extremely clean, the beds are very comfortable and the staff is wonderful.

  • Great location
  • Bike rentals
  • Terrace
  • Clean and comfortable

Private rooms start at $30 per night

Read more

  Chiang Rai Accommodation


Just a 1-minute walk to the Clock Tower and a 2-minute walk to the Night Market, this hotel is all about location!

Breakfast is included with your stay and the rooms are equipped with air conditioning, satellite TV and a refrigerator. Near Walking Street, bars, restaurants, and all amenities. The staff is known to be very friendly and welcoming.

  • Perfect location
  • Friendly staff
  • Extremely clean and comfortable
  • Walking distance to numerous sights 

Private rooms start at $38 per night

Read more


More routes to Chiang Rai

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Pai to Chiang Mai

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